July 31, 2012


The long out-of-print Mod classic, Quadrophenia (1979), will be released on DVD and Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection on August 28th. From Criterion: "The Who’s classic rock opera Quadrophenia was the basis for this invigorating coming-of-age movie and depiction of the defiant, drug-fueled mod subculture of early 1960s London. Our antihero is Jimmy (Phil Daniels), a teenager dissatisfied with family, work, and love. He spends his time knocking around with his clothes-obsessed, pill-popping, scooter-driving fellow mods, a group whose antipathy for the motorcycle-riding rockers leads to a climactic riot in Brighton. Director Franc Roddam’s rough-edged film is a quintessential chronicle of youthful rebellion and turmoil, with Pete Townshend’s brilliant songs (including “I’ve Had Enough,” “5:15,” and “Love Reign O’er Me”) providing emotional support, and featuring Sting and Ray Winstone in early roles." The disc features a new restored and uncut print supervised by the cinematographer, a 5.1 surround mix supervised by The Who, director commentary, interviews, 1964 and 1965 French TV episodes about Mod culture and The Who, personal history by Mod, Irish Jack, and more!

July 30, 2012


If your sense of style extends to fragrances and perfumes, drop into Harrods to sample the new James Bond 007 Fragrance for men. Just one of the many licensed items to be released during the 50th anniversary of Bond and the launch of the new film, Skyfall, small bottles starting at $30 will be available at Harrods after August 15th. More info at New York Daily News.

Fragrances have donned the Bond name before, including a women's perfume called Bond Girl 007 released in 2008 during Quantum of Solace

A.B.R. Barlach also released scents for both men and women in 1997 packaged in glass tops. During the release of Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), a men's perfume was released with Pierce Brosnan's image and packaged in a bullet. 

And famous among collectors of 007 ephemera, there was this line of Men's "007" aftershave and cologne (below) advertised suggestively in 1965. All this and much more can be seen at the 007 Collector website.


Today is the last day to take advantage of the Criterion Collection sale at Barnes and Noble. All Criterion DVDs and Blu-rays are currently 50% off on-line and in stores. Spy Vibers should check out titles like Branded To Kill, Tokyo Drifter, le Samourai, The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and classics by Fritz Lang, Wes Anderson, Kurosawa, Fellini, Bergman, Ozu, Takvovsky, and many others.

July 28, 2012


While looking through images on the Internet of Takao Saito's James Bond manga adaptations of Ian Fleming (he did four books before starting his Golgo 13 series), I came across a number of Man From UNCLE comics he made under the title 0011 Napoleon Solo. I wonder if any Spy Vibers have collected these editions? Has anyone found scanned pages out there? I'd love to see more. I found these and few other shots at a message board here.

July 26, 2012


It was 50 years ago in 1962 that Len Deighton published The Ipcress File and introduced the world to his 'unnamed' hero. In celebration of this anniversary, Rob Mallows at our sister site The Deighton Dossier examines the social/cultural context of the book and contrasts Deighton's worldview with that of Ian Fleming, who introduced James Bond in 1953.

"Casino Royale opens with James Bond observing one of SMERSH’s paymasters, Le Chiffre in a glamorous European casino with the Cold War heating up. Straightaway, Ian Fleming has established the mode of operation of his spy lead and the world in which he operates.

In The Ipcress File, by contrast, the narrator – Len Deighton’s unnamed spy who will, in perpetuity, be known as ‘Harry Palmer’ – we meet first not in a discussion with his boss about his next mission abroad chasing down agents working for the Russians, but in a dialogue about his expenses.

What this signifies I think is that The Ipcress File is a marker post for what was in 1962 the next wave in spy/thriller fiction. If the pre-war years were the work of the trusty amateur spy (in real life and in fiction), by the War and postwar years agencies had had to become more professional, and so did the fictional spies. If Bond was the model, nerveless suave professional in the ‘fifties, what was ‘Harry Palmer’?" -Rob Mallows (Read more at The Deighton Dossier)

July 24, 2012


Bear Family records in Germany is the 'Criterion Collection' of rare music from the 20th Century. Although they cover many areas, their lavish box sets and limited edition CDs tend to specialize in American Rock, Rockabilly, Country and Western, and Blues. Like Criterion, they work with original tapes to offer the best masters available, and you can find everything from studio outtakes to lost broadcasts. In 2005 they took on the Cold War in a beautifully compiled set called Atomic Platters, which includes 5 CDs, 1 DVD, and an LP-size 292 page book. The set was recently re-released on July 15, 2012.

From the Bear Family website: "Over 100 vintage Cold War songs and more than two dozen frighteningly naive civil defense Public Service Announcements. Well-known stars like Bill Haley and His Comets, The Louvin Brothers, Marty Robbins, and Wanda Jackson to fascinating obscurities like The Goldwaters, Janet Greene (The Right Wing's answer to Joan Baez!) and Dr. Strangelove and the Fallouts. A DVD of nine bizarre civil defense and anti-Communist short films from the '50s and '60s. A 292 page hardcover book featuring numerous arresting images from the Cold War era." 

"67 years ago on August 6, 1945 the world changed forever over the skies of Hiroshima. Incredibly, this epochal event led to all manner of 'atomic' exploitation (Atomic Cocktails anyone) and pop cultural strangeness (music, film, merchandise, etc.) as Americans tried to absorb the enormity of the horror its government had unleashed upon Japan. 'Atomic Platters' is the result of a years-in-the-making musical 'Manhattan Project' that collects over 100 vintage Cold War songs and more than two dozen frighteningly naive civil defense Public Service Announcements (many of these PSAs are voiced by celebrities such as Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Pat Boone and Johnny Cash, to name just a few!) from the paranoid period that brought us fallout shelters, survival biscuits and uranium fever. 

The artists who sing about the Bomb and the Red Scare on this set run the gamut from well-known stars like Bill Haley and His Comets, The Louvin Brothers, Marty Robbins and Wanda Jackson to fascinating obscurities like The Goldwaters, Janet Greene (The Right Wing's answer to Joan Baez!) and Dr. Strangelove and the Fallouts. In addition to music and PSAs, 'Atomic Platters' includes two unintentionally hilarious full-length spoken word civil defense 'scare' LPs: 'If The Bomb Falls' and 'The Complacent Americans.'" [I don't believe that this Sons of the Pioneers track below is included, but it gives you a good idea of what to expect.]

"But why stop with mere sound The Cold War was a multimedia horror show and 'Atomic Platters' tops off its mushroom cloud of entertainment with a DVD of nine bizarre civil defense and anti-Communist short films from the '50s and '60s. Summing all this strange material up is a 292 page hardcover book featuring numerous arresting images from the Cold War era with intriguing text by Bill Geerhart of CONELRAD, an organization devoted to the preservation and examination of atomic popular culture."


Fans of pulp cliffhanger heroes will be excited to hear that Screen Archives Entertainment has announced the release of a number of limited-edition soundtracks. Included in the line-up are the scores to Batman Animated volumes #1 and #2 (Shirley Walker, et al), The Phantom (David Newman), and The Shadow (Jerry Goldsmith). Also on the pre-release list is the rare new score to Hitchcock's early thriller, The Lodger, by Nitin Sawhney. More info at SAE.

July 23, 2012


The excellent UK distributor and store, Network, continues to unearth and remaster cult TV treasures from the 1960s. They have just released the complete Undermind series. From Network: "Crime drama meets science fiction in this chilling and intriguing ABC series. Undermind, first broadcast in 1965 and starring Rosemary Nicols (Department S) and Jeremy Wilkin (UFO), is released here for the first time in any format.

 Detective Sergeant Frank Heriot is healthy, happily married, and has a good job. So what has made him cold and remote towards his family? And why is he suddenly plagued by terrible headaches? Is he mentally ill or is something far more sinister affecting his mind? Gradually, the answer becomes clear: Frank is the victim of an unknown force seeking to undermine public confidence in the people and institutions that form the backbone of the British Establishment. Doctors, teachers, scientists, clergymen and writers and are all among its targets; its ultimate aim is anarchy. Where will the mysterious menace strike next? It could be the man who sits next to you on the bus. It could be you…" The 3-disc set is region 2 PAL, 550 minutes, and is currently part of an on-line sale at the Network website.


Raymond Chandler was born on this day in 1888. Celebrate the author of The Big Sleep and other adventures featuring his protagonist, Philip Marlowe, with this historic interview he recorded with Ian Fleming for the BBC in 1958. Enjoy!


July 22, 2012


Spend Sunday with The Saint. This modern-day Robin Hood, Simon Templar (The Saint), was created by Leslie Charteris in 1928. Check out the author!author! video below for a summary of Saint history, a brief introduction with a nice collection of vintage book designs! Spy Vibers can see more cover designs from around the world at saint.org. The video doesn't cover the success of The Saint as a radio show, which eventually cast Vincent Price in the starring role. You can hear radio dramas on Youtube, as well as at archive.org

July 20, 2012


Happy Birthday to Dame Diana Rigg. Diana was born on this day in 1938. At twenty-seven, she began filming a two-year television role as Mrs Peel on The Avengers. Bringing her delectable charm and panache to the program, she defined mid-1960s style and liberation. Incidentally, her character's name, Emma Peel, stood for "M-an appeal." Her gravitas as an actress also won her the lead female role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), often chosen by 007 fans as the best film in the series. Diana has had a long and successful stage and screen career since the spy boom of the 1960s. Making a return to cult TV, she will appear next year with her daughter on Doctor Who. Today is Avengers day on Spy Vibe. Check out our post about fashion designer John Bates, who defined Rigg's look starting in the 1965-1966 season. Many happy returns, Diana!


It's been a while since we looked at this wonderful time capsule from British Pathe. Made in 1965, the camera crews captured a Jean Varon fashion show that highlighted his designs for Mrs. Peel on The Avengers. Although the narrator mis-identifies the first model as Diana Rigg, the outfits are the real McCoy. Spy Vibers will recognize most of the collection from Rigg's first season in 1965-1966. Patrick Macnee also makes an appearance in the audience, with his trademark charm and twinkle in the eye. Jean Varon was actually the house-name of fashion designer, John Bates (born 1938), through the 1960s. He was well-known for creating modernistic outfits that were championed by British Vogue, the Fashion Museum in Bath, and by Diana Rigg in The Avengers. Bates (Varon) was an early adopter of Op Art elements in his black and white mini-coats and accessories. Some claim that Bates, not Courreges nor Quant, created the mini skirt. Ahead of his time, he was also making plastic garments as early as 1962.

I've been re-watching the 1965-1966 season of The Avengers and there are some wonderful moments when the camera just pans down to advertise Mrs. Peel's latest look. One memorable outfit, seen in this newsreel, is a silver vinyl ensemble with bra bodice, low-rise pants, and jacket. Bates was a great advocate of bra-lessness and of showing the midriff (and as much as possible!). The Telegraph caught up with him for a 2006 interview in Wales, where the designer-turned painter lives with his partner. If you want to learn more about Varon/Bates, check out John Bates: Fashion Designer by Richard Lester (not to be confused with the 1960's film director). Enjoy! 

July 19, 2012


The New York Times talked yesterday with Ab Rogers, designer of the Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style exhibit at Barbican.  In the interview Rogers takes us on a tour through the show, including a recreation of Ian Fleming's office at Goldeneye in Jamaica, where visitors hear the sound of a typewriter and birds chirping. Great to learn that the exhibit did not leave Bond's creator out of the picture. Asked which of the film's evil lairs were his favorite, Rogers said, "I think Goldfinger’s ranch is pretty extraordinary: the floor plane sliding away, tables rotating to reveal maps, very satisfying. But I also loved the conceit of Blofeld’s empire hidden in a volcano in “You Only Live Twice.” The carving-out of the interior, the grafting of sharp steel architectural details, louvered walls, even a monorail network, into the rock was beautifully simple and marvelously conceived in Adam’s original concept sketches. More recently in “GoldenEye,” I thought the idea of villain Alec Trevelyan operating from a customized decommissioned military locomotive was an interesting take on modern mobile solutions. If I had to choose one lair, it would be “The Man With the Golden Gun.” I like the way it opens up out of the rock with incredible clarity. The combination of shining materials, technology and concrete against the natural elements of rock, vegetation and the power of the sun is fantastic." The exhibit will be in London through September 5th, before moving to Toronto. Read more at The New York Times.

Scroll down for recent editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. Series links: Jon GilbertRaymond BensonJeremy DunsPeter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langley. You can find James Bond books and other spy treasures in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon Store.

July 18, 2012


Secret agent 007 has always taken his fans on thrilling rides as he pursues baddies around the globe. From the famous car scene in Fleming's Moonraker novel, to the Aston Martin models in the films, the Bond vehicles have become an extension of the character's uniform. Fans have enjoyed seeing original props from the films at the Bond in Motion exhibit, at the Designing Bond show at Barbican, and recently at ComiCon. Motortrend announced today that the upcoming James Bond film, Skyfall, will feature a chase scene atop Honda CRF250R motorcycles. Twenty Honda motorcycles were provided for the film, including two CRF450R bikes used to capture all the action with HD cameras. More info at Motortrend. You can also get a close-up tour with Cinema Retro.

July 16, 2012


For Your Shelf Only continues! Spy Vibe recently talked with Jon Gilbert, rare book dealer and author of Ian Fleming: The Bibliography. Our chat began a new series on Spy Vibe, offering fellow collectors and fans of spy novels a chance to share their experiences and some of their prized books.

Our next guest is Craig Arthur. Craig has been working on his first spy novel for several years. He studied English at the University of Otago. His articles researching and analyzing James Bond-related topics have appeared on commanderbond.net and mi6-hq.com. He has also written for spywise.net.  

How did you first get exposed to the world of James Bond?

I was already aware of Ian Fleming via Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – a favourite story of mine from as far back as I could remember, although I didn’t actually own a copy and I never saw the 1968 movie because I was too young. For a while, Chitty remained my only link to Fleming.

Then I saw [the movie] The Spy Who Loved Me at age 9 in 1977. The only way to see Bond movies in those days was in the cinema.  I was lucky I became a Bond fan when I did, because it meant I saw all of the Bond movies on the big-screen while they were still in circulation. At the time, however, I did not know when, if ever, I would get to see the earlier films, and it was a long two-year wait between the new movies. There were no VCRs. Nor were Bond movies shown on New Zealand television the way they were in the UK and America. I would see copies of Christopher Wood’s James Bond:  The Spy Who Loved Me whenever I was in a bookshop but I did not have the means to buy it.  The Fleming Bond novels, like the early Connery Bond films, were something beyond my reach. 
When did you start to read Ian Fleming?

I was highly aware of my geographic isolation. London was the centre of the Bondian universe and, as Wikipedia points out, my hometown of Dunedin, New Zealand, is the most distant city on Earth from London. Even when a new movie was released, I would have to wait an extra six months for it to reach our shores. Then, after its initial release, there was no telling when I might get to see it again. So, I would latch onto whatever talismans of Bond-related material I could. Bond books, the original Fleming novels or anything else related to Bond or spies, provided the most accessible, concrete touchstones.  Assuming I could obtain them. 
   In 1978, when I was staying with my grandparents, my grandmother was reading a Jonathan Cape Fleming omnibus on loan from the St Kilda Public Library, containing Dr No, Live and Let Die, and Diamonds Are Forever. I read the opening chapter of Dr No, somewhat perturbed by the detailed descriptions of zinging and tinkling crickets and frogs, ex-patriot English cocktail hour rituals in Jamaica, and night-scented jasmine. For a 10 year old, there seemed a lot of detail to wade through before we meet the ‘three blind men’ and an even longer wait before anything actually ‘happens’. But it did not dampen my curiosity and I was able to memorise the titles of all the Fleming novels from the list inside the book. 
   In 1979, I saw both Thunderball and Goldfinger on the big screen and was counting down the months to the December release of Moonraker. That same year one or two of the new 1978 Grafton paperback editions of the Fleming novels appeared in local bookshops. I saved up my pocket money and purchased On Her Majesty’s Secret Service while on holiday in Wanaka. It proved a difficult read for me as an 11 year old. I enjoyed the opening sequence but got bogged down in Fleming’s lengthy digressions on the subject heraldry. I did not read any further until I began intermediate school in 1980 where I found the Patrick Nobes abridged version in the school library. I then read Patrick Nobes’s abridged Bull’s-Eye editions of Goldfinger and Live and Let Die. I also discovered The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003 ½ by R.D. Mascott.  After moving onto high school, I lost all access to a copy this book, and then spent the next 25 years looking for one. 

When did you begin to collect books?

It was while I was still at intermediate school I began collecting Fleming more seriously. Having exhausted the Bull’s-Eye young readers’ editions available in the school library, I began buying second-hand Pan paperbacks of the unabridged Fleming novels from cheap second hand shops. That same year Licence Renewed was published. I remember staring at the Chopping-style dust-jacket in awe but to purchase a new hardback book was financially impossible at age 12 or 13. 

I continued to go to see the movies whenever they were shown, and I could convince my parents to take me, until video killed off demand and they were withdrawn from cinema circulation. For several years, my parents refused to buy a VCR and so once again, I only had the literary Bond and new release Bond movies once every two years to fall back upon. 
   But paradoxically, the reason I now have Ian Fleming first editions is because an annual 24 hour book sale was started up in 1980 to save an opulent 1920s 'super cinema' from demolition and keep it running as a venue for live performance as well as film. So indirectly, because people stopped going to see movies in the cinema in the same numbers I would not have been able to built up the book collection I have today. 

Tell us about it.

The community raised funds for the theater through the annual 24-hour sale of donated books each May. Reputedly the largest such event in the Southern hemisphere. Fortuitously for me, the annual book sale began at the same time when I started collecting Bond books. I found my first Ian Fleming first edition at the Regent when I was 14- a 1964 Jonathan Cape first printing of You Only Live Twice complete with Richard Chopping dust-jacket – still a cornerstone of my collection today.  It cost me 50 cents (the equivalent of 25 cents US at the time). Between 1982 and 1991 at the Regent, I found For Your Eyes Only (sans dust-jacket), Thunderball, OHMSS, You Only Live Twice, The Man With the Golden Gun, a reprint of The Spy Who Loved Me, along with Kingsley Amis’s The James Bond Dossier and Colonel Sun. They each cost me 50 cents. I remember being marked-down on the bibliography for my 1991 post-graduate English Literature dissertation on the suspense thriller because I claimed to have consulted a first edition copy of Thunderball (the examiner refused to accept my copy was a first edition!) 

You found some great treasures. Did it require a lot of patience and hunting?

Often it was not as simple as finding one perfect copy. I found a copy of OHMSS, sans dust-jacket one year, for instance, and then a couple of years later an ex-library copy from which I culled the dust-jacket. I would also find numerous Book Club editions (far more ubiquitous in these parts than the Jonathan Cape originals). For a while, they filled the gaps in my collection of Fleming hardbacks until I could find Cape editions. 
   In 1992, I moved to Wellington and missed the book sale for the next four years. I only found three Fleming first editions the entire time I was in Wellington – Octopussy, The Living Daylights, and Thrilling Cities. They each cost me $35.  Then in December 1995, I travelled up to Auckland for the New Zealand premiere of GoldenEye. While I was there, I went around various second hand bookshops asking if they had any Ian Fleming. For the sum total of $200 NZD, I managed to buy mint condition 1960s Jonathan Cape reprint editions of Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, Dr No and Goldfinger. It meant I now had a near complete set of Jonathan Cape hardbacks – everything apart from From Russia With Love
   At the end of 1996, I returned to Dunedin and resumed going to the Regent book sale every May. I didn’t see Ian Fleming books with the same incidence as I did during the 1980s.  But I did eventually find a mint-condition 1965 edition of From Russia With Love in 1998, completing my set at long last, shortly before my 30th birthday. In general, I try to limit my Fleming collection to one set of Jonathan Cape hardbacks and one set of 1960s Pan paperbacks with the Raymond Hawkey cover designs.  (I’m a big fan of Hawkey’s cover designs for Len Deighton’s books as well).

Do you collect other authors?

Another important aspect of the Regent book sale for me is that it gave me access to vintage thriller-writers. Because I liked Fleming’s novels and indeed the John Gardner Bond continuation novels, I would seek out the authors who influenced them. Gardner would often reference older thriller-writers such as Dornford Yates and Ambler in his books and so I would keep a lookout for authors he alluded to. Also, I had read O.F. Snelling’s James Bond: A Report, in which Snelling discusses the influence of what Richard Usborne termed ‘Clubland Heroes’ on Fleming. So, I read Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond, Dornford Yates, and John Buchan’s Richard Hannay, and I would keep an eye out for anything by these authors. I looked for Geoffrey Household, Leslie Charteris’s Saint books (I bought my first Saint book when I was 10 or 11 years old.), and Somerset Maugham (I found a nice 1928 second impression of Ashenden, sans dust-jacket, one year).  

More recently, I found a 1916 fifth impression of Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps. I would similarly pounce on any authors who came immediately in the wake of Fleming as part of the 1960s’ spy craze. I gave all the authors a try:  Adam Hall, Peter O’Donnell, James Mayo, James Leasor, amongst others. I still collect Adam Hall’s Quiller novels and Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise.

Something that hunting through the mass of books at the Regent taught me – you see how Fleming was head and shoulders above all the dross that was around at the time.  As with musical eras, we tend to look back and see the past as golden. John le Carre, Len Deighton, Ian Fleming and Eric Ambler create a sense of how fantastic the Cold War era was for the thriller genre.  But the dominant popular fiction at the time was not wonderful. The Regent Theatre book sale was a graveyard for unwanted fiction. A time capsule of what the majority of people were reading in the mid-years of the twentieth century.  In the blurb for the 1956 Reprint Society edition of Live And Let Die, Fleming complained, “the craft of writing sophisticated thrillers is almost dead.”  Again, in 1961, in the blurb of the original Jonathan Cape edition of Thunderball, he complains, “In fiction, people used to have blood in their veins. Nowadays they have pond water. My books are just out of step.  But so are all the people who read them.” 
   When you’re wading through all the rubbish at the Regent, the endless volumes of Reader’s Digest condensed books, the forgotten titles by forgotten authors and Alastair Maclean thrillers, you realise how out of step Fleming was.  Even when Raymond Benson was writing the Bond continuation novels, he coped with a lot of unfair flack that his books were ‘pornographic’ and I can remember complaints about the violence in John Gardner’s Bond novels in the 1980s. But great authors like Fleming, le Carre and Deighton, have proved the test of time. 

Can you still find rare spy thrillers at the Regent?

A big problem with all the dross at the Regent sale is that, understandably, nobody wants to buy it. And because so much mid-twentieth century popular fiction has gone unsold over the years, the organisers of the Regent book sale seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that ‘old’ books do not sell. As a result, all the hardback fiction prior to circa 1980 is mysteriously absent from the sale tables. As a friend of mine says, if books don’t have shiny 1980s’ covers, then they don’t bother putting it on sale, fearing nobody will buy it. It is not simply a matter of people no longer donating older books. A friend of mine has found early Fleming editions at smaller book fairs in the region.

What are you looking for now?

Charles Cumming and Olen Steinhauer both write spy thrillers that are equal to anything by their predecessors. I try to obtain their books in hardback first edition (I’m slowly building up a complete set of signed US first editions of all Charles Cumming’s books; I was a consultant on The Trinity Six and Charlie paid me in signed first editions.) I would still like to find a Jonathan Cape hardback copy of Christopher Wood’s James Bond:  The Spy Who Loved Me, with its incredible Bill Botten artwork. 
   I have continued to collect the James Bond continuation novels, though I much prefer John Gardner and Raymond Benson to Sebastian Faulks and Jeffrey Deaver. It was not so easy to collect all the Gardner and Benson Bond novels when they were published. They became increasingly harder to obtain in this part of the world. Raymond and I have become good friends, however, and over the years he has sent me signed copies of The Union Trilogy, A Hard Day’s Death and a pre-publication copy of The Black Stiletto. I also bought Charlie Higson’s Young Bond adventures as they came out. I finally managed to get hold of a nice first edition of The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003 ½ by R.D. Mascott after a 25-year search. And I was pleased to get hold of the Puffin facsimile edition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when it was published for the Fleming centenary in 2008. 

Is there a book in your collection that you prize the most?

There's no one book in my collection I prize above the others. I'm very grateful for all the books I have found over the years. Charles Cumming's The Trinity Six has perhaps the most personal significance because of the influence I had on some of the material. For instance, I chose the New Zealand setting of Drybread as an homage to my friend and mentor Owen Marshall – New Zealand's greatest living writer, whose work is largely unknown beyond these shores.  

What do you love about reading Ian Fleming?

Ian Fleming’s work continues to be important to me. Reading him as an adult, I see him very differently now compared to the way I saw him as a teenager. In my teens, I was caught up in the fantasy Fleming created. Bond, the character, was what interested me – the situations he found himself in. I was disappointed if the stories did not involve Bond sufficiently, in the same way that I was disappointed when Sherlock Holmes disappeared from the action in A Study in ScarletThe Spy Who Loved Me or short stories such as ‘Quantum of Solace’ or ‘Octopussy’ disappointed me as a teenager for this reason. In my twenties, my enjoyment of Ian Fleming became more holistic. I enjoyed his detailed digressions and Fleming became as interesting as Bond himself. There is a sense in reading Fleming that one is dining with a great chef. I marveled at his ability to ‘domestic the marvellous’ (as Kingsley Amis praised him for), and simultaneously his ability to make mundane everyday consumer goods or arcane research on heraldry astonishing. If he had written non-Bond novels, I would have found them equally absorbing. ‘Quantum of Solace’ and ‘Octopussy’ became as gripping as Live and Let Die; the bridge game in Moonraker as exciting as underwater action or car chases. 
   Fleming is a fabulist, often reveling in the grotesque for the simple reason that it produces what he refers to in From Russia With Love as ‘les sensations forte’. Strong sensations. He is not asking us to identify with an apparently sympathetic character like Kerim Bey, who chains one of his mistresses to a table, holding her captive until she became submissive. Rather, Fleming is manipulating the reader’s sense of what creates a disturbingly powerful character in the same way Marquez does in ‘Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother’. To quote Borges, “we do not feel horror because we are threatened by a sphinx; we dream of a sphinx in order to explain the horror we feel.” Fleming dreamt up many sphinxes, not only his villains, but characters such Kerim... even Bond himself. To achieve the same impact his descriptions might have had back in the 1950s nowadays, writers have to work harder to create a more direct prose. Fleming’s work casts a long shadow over the genre.  However, he was writing in an era when people were more accustomed to florid, baroque grandeur; they even went to the cinema in picture palaces that resembled the Palais Garnier, as opposed to the era of the shoebox designs of modern multiplex cinemas. We live in a very different world today. 

Thank you to Craig Arthur for joining us and sharing his experiences hunting for Ian Fleming's books and other spy thrillers. Like many of us who collect, the thrill of the hunt is, and remains by evidence of his stories, the exciting part of bulding up a collection. Scroll down for past editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. Series links: Jon GilbertRaymond BensonJeremy DunsPeter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langley, Craig Arthur, Fleming Short, Matt Sherman. You can find James Bond books and other spy treasures in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon Store.

July 13, 2012


Screen Archives Entertainment have released John Barry's score for the 1966 spy thriller, The Quiller Memorandum. From their website: "Cool, classic John Barry soundtrack for superb Michael Anderson 1966 spy thriller starring George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max Von Sydow, Senta Berger. Music first appears on LP from Columbia label in 1966. Inspired by fresh script from Harold Pinter, drawn from Adam Hall best seller, Barry avoids James Bond style of spy music, nods instead towards atmospheric West Germany locale, bleak theme of rising neo-Nazi movement. For the record, composer produces perfect album offering majority of his score in vivid stereo sound. Haunting main waltz-theme "Wednesday's Child" anchors, suspenseful cues play in contrast. Album also features Matt Monro in vocal version of theme. Intrada CD features album program in stereo from Columbia master tapes, courtesy Sony. For album fans, original artwork features on one side of booklet, all new artwork features on other side. Take your pick! John Barry conducts. Intrada Special Collection release available while quantities and interest remain! - Douglass Fake." Below is the trailer for the film, starring George Segal, Alec Guiness (Our Man in Havana), Sente Berger (Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Ambushers), and Ingmar Bergman regular, Max von Sydow (The Kremlin Letter, Three Days of the Condor, Brass Target, Never Say Never Again).

Scroll down for recent editions of our series, For Your Shelf Only, where guests share stories about collecting and show us some of their treasures. Series links: Jon GilbertRaymond BensonJeremy DunsPeter LorenzDavid FosterRob MallowsRoger Langleyrare Ian Fleming short. You can find James Bond books and other spy treasures in Spy Vibe's secure Amazon Store